Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. (March 8, 1841 – March 6, 1935) was an American jurist who served as an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States from 1902 to 1932, and as Acting Chief Justice of the United States January–February 1930. 

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Stupidity often saves a man from going mad.

Memories, imagination, old sentiments and associations, are more readily reached through the sense of smell than through any other channel.

To be seventy years young is sometimes far more cheerful and hopeful than to be forty years old.

The main part of intellectual education is not the acquisition of facts, but learning how to make facts live.

A woman never forgets her sex. She would rather talk with a man than an angel any day.

Simple people are very quick to see the live facts which are going on about them.

Don't be "consistent", but be simple true.

Memory is a net: one that finds it full of fish when he takes it from the brook, but a dozen miles of water have run through it without sticking.

The sound of a kiss is not so loud as that of a cannon, but its echo lasts a great deal longer.

It is very lonely sometimes trying to play God.

To reach a port we must sail sometimes with the wind and sometimes against it. But we must not drift or lie at anchor.

Put not your trust in money, but put your money in trust.

Beware how you take away hope from another human being.

Don't you stay at home of evenings? Don't you love a cushioned seat in a corner by the fireside with your slippers on your feet?

Chicago sounds rough to the maker of verse. One comfort we have - Cincinnati sounds worse.

Happiness consists in activity. It is running steam not a stagnant pool.

Rough work iconoclasm but the only way to get at truth.

Stillness of person and steadiness of features are signal marks of good breeding.

A thought is often original though you have uttered it a hundred times.

The great thing in the world is not so much where we stand as in what direction we are moving.

Controversy equalizes fools and wise men - and the fools know it.

If there is any principle of the Constitution that more imperatively calls for attachment than any other it is the principle of free thought not free thought for those who agree with us but freedom for the thought that we hate.

Nature when she invented manufactured and patented her authors contrived to make critics out of the chips that were left.

A goose flies by a chart which the Royal Geographical Society could not mend.

I hate facts. I always say the chief end of man is to form general propositions - adding that no general proposition is worth a damn.

We do not quit playing because we grow old we grow old because we quit playing.

Every library should try to be complete on something, if it were only the history of pinheads.

Old age is fifteen years older than I am.

Every idea is an incitement... Eloquence may set fire to reason.

Speak clearly if you speak at all, carve every word before you let it fall.

Wisdom is the abstract of the past but beauty is the promise of the future.

A man may fulfill the object of his existence by asking a question he cannot answer and attempting a task he cannot achieve.

Even for practical purposes theory generally turns out the most important thing in the end.

The man who is always worrying about whether or not his soul would be damned generally has a soul that isn't worth a damn.

I think that as life is action and passion it is required of a man that he should share the passion and action of his time at peril of being judged not to have lived.

Nothing is so common-place as to wish to be remarkable.

Between two groups of people who want to make inconsistent kinds of worlds I see no remedy but force.

The very aim and end of our institutions is just this: that we may think what we like and say what we think.

The world's great men have not commonly been great scholars nor its great scholars great men.

He has half the deed done who has made a beginning.

The Amen of nature is always a flower.

Don't flatter yourself that friendship authorizes you to say disagreeable things to your intimates. The nearer you come into relation with a person the more necessary do tact and courtesy become.

Grow we must if we outgrow all that loves us.

Have the courage to act instead of react.

Fame usually comes to those who are thinking about something else.

The mind once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas never returns to its original size.

I don't generally feel anything until noon then it's time for my nap.

One's mind once stretched by a new idea never regains its original dimensions.

If I were dying my last words would be: Have faith and pursue the unknown end.

The real religion of the world comes from women much more than from men - from mothers most of all who carry the key of our souls in their bosoms.

Do not be bullied out of your common sense by the specialist, two to one he is a pedant.

Every real thought on every real subject knocks the wind out of somebody or other.

People who honestly mean to be true really contradict themselves much more rarely than those who try to be 'consistent'.

Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it time runs out.

Sweet is the scene where genial friendship plays the pleasing game of interchanging praise.

Science is a first-rate piece of furniture for a man's upper chamber if he has common sense on the ground floor.

It's faith in something and enthusiasm for something that makes a life worth living.

Love is the master key that opens the gates of happiness.

A few can touch the magic string and noisy fame is proud to win them: Alas for those that never sing but die with all their music in them!

A great calamity is as old as the trilobites an hour after it has happened.

Love prefers twilight to daylight.

This is a court of law young man not a court of justice.

Insanity is often the logic of an accurate mind overtasked.

Life is painting a picture not doing a sum.

The mode by which the inevitable comes to pass is effort.

Through our great good fortune in our youth our hearts were touched with fire. It was given to us to learn at the outset that life is a profound and passionate thing.

To be civilized is to be potentially master of all possible ideas and that means that one has got beyond being shocked although one preserves one's own moral aesthetic preferences.

But friendship is the breathing rose with sweets in every fold.

Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.

Fresh air is good if you do not take too much of it, most of the achievements and pleasures of life are in bad air.

The advice of the elders to young men is very apt to be as unreal as a list of the hundred best books.

The young man knows the rules but the old man knows the exceptions.

Men do not quit playing because they grow old, they grow old because they quit playing.

Pretty much all the honest truth-telling there is in the world is done by children.

The world is always ready to receive talent with open arms. Very often it does not know what to do with genius.

A new untruth is better than an old truth.

When in doubt do it.

Truth when not sought after rarely comes to light.

Without wearing any mask we are conscious of we have a special face for each friend.

I won't accept anything less than the best a player's capable of doing... and he has the right to expect the best that I can do for him and the team!

Why can't somebody give us a list of things that everybody thinks and nobody says and another list of things that everybody says and nobody thinks.

Most people are willing to take the Sermon on the Mount as a flag to sail under but few will use it as a rudder by which to steer.

A pun does not commonly justify a blow in return. But if a blow were given for such cause and death ensued the jury would be judges both of the facts and of the pun and might if the latter were of an aggravated character return a verdict of justifiable homicide.

Some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.

It is the province of knowledge to speak and it is the privilege of wisdom to listen.

A person is always startled when he hears himself called old for the first time.

Where we love is home - home that our feet may leave but not our hearts.

Our brains are seventy-year clocks. The Angel of Life winds them up once for all then closes the case and gives the key into the hand of the Angel of the Resurrection.

Language is the blood of the soul into which thoughts run and out of which they grow.

Apology is only egotism wrong side out.

Every calling is great when greatly pursued.

Truth is tough. It will not break like a bubble at a touch, nay you may kick it about all day like a football and it will be round and full at evening.